What's in an object file? Evidence from priming studies

Robert D. Gordon, David E. Irwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Six experiments were conducted to investigate the nature of the contents of object files, temporary representations that store information about objects. Experiment 1 used a lexical priming paradigm with a lexical decision task, in which the prime and target could appear in either the same or different locations. The results indicated a greater priming effect when the prime and target appeared in the same location than when they appeared in different locations (object- or location-specific priming). Experiment 2 replicated these findings for objects that changed position during the display. Experiment 3 demonstrated that these findings reflected the inclusion of abstract identity information, rather than physical form, in object files. Three additional experiments tested for the presence of three types of semantic information (related concepts, semantic features, and category membership) in object files. No object-specific priming effects were found. Taken together, these experiments suggest that an object file includes identity information, but not semantic information. Implications of the results for object file theory are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1260-1277
Number of pages18
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • General Psychology


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